Attorney General Maura Healey is giving cities and towns more power to slow down the recreational marijuana industry, ruling that local officials can unilaterally prohibit cannabis companies for another year without polling residents.
The decision, approving an extension of Mansfield’s temporary moratorium on pot shops and other marijuana businesses through June 2019, was released Friday after questions from the Globe. It represents a reversal by Healey, as her office had previously said local freezes extending beyond Dec. 31 of this year were “longer than is reasonably necessary” and “could be viewed as unconstitutional.”
Now Healey believes municipalities deserve additional time to set up marijuana zoning rules.
“Certain communities have expressed a need for some additional time to address implementation of recreational marijuana licensing, sales, and facilities,” Healey spokeswoman Margaret Quackenbush wrote in a statement. “Given ongoing regulatory activity by the Cannabis Control Commission, such temporary local moratoriums are consistent with state law.”
“This ruling has the potential to severely threaten Massachusetts’s job-creating, $2 billion cannabis industry, subverting state law and the will of the people who voted for legalization over 20 months ago,” the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association said in a statement. “Should it stand, municipalities will be given three times longer than [the seven months] the state’s cannabis commission . . . had to develop its regulations.”